Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Mississippi in July, ah. What joy the summer sun brings to us southerners! July in Mississippi means picnics by the lake, Smith County watermelons and out-of-this-world barbeque. But it also means humid, suffocating heat and, for those of us that sweat, an extra stick of deodorant in the glove box.
Moving about town in the hot, humid air is bearable. Thank God for the invention of air conditioning.
Even with it, though, only a portion of your journey from point A to point B is pleasant. You still have to walk to and from your car in the heat. Luckily though, unless you're one of those people who double parks at the very end of parking lot rows to avoid contact with other cars, the walk generally isn't too long. But whether it's 2 feet or 200 feet, most people are generally on the brink of stroke or sweating bullets by the time they reach their air-conditioned destination.
If your destination is a building, then great. It's cool, calm and ready for you to bask in it's air-conditioned sanctuary. But if the destination is your car, then the journey isn't over, yet. You've still got to wait a few minutes before the car starts cooling your air. So, what do you do in the meantime? Roll down your windows, right? People riding around on the streets of Chicago can maybe pull that off. But in Mississippi, the air blowing into your car from outside is probably hotter than the stuffy air in your car to begin with. These days, I've become an expert of sorts on the topic. This has been my first Mississippi summer with no A/C in my car.
When my A/C stopped working in November, I told myself, "Thank God it's November and not July!" I was happy to postpone the necessary car operation to fix my air until it got hotter outside, and I couldn't live without it. After riding around town with the exquisite comfort of heat during the winter months, it started to warm up in April.
April heat is way different than July heat. In April, my first reaction is to always to roll down the windows and cruise in the cool breeze. I'd actually go for drives along the Natchez Trace in April, just to feel the wind in my fro and listen to my iPod at elevated volumes. It was relaxing.
But one day, as April heat warmed to late-May heat, I reached for the A/C knob to cool my car with the windows up, and turned the dial to high. Hot, sticky air blew into the car, stinging my face. I had forgotten that my A/C wasn't working. I reluctantly rolled all the windows down, and drove on full speed ahead in an effort to gust up some wind.
I've never had any serious problems with my car, but I knew that I wasn't ready to take it into the auto shop. I had the stigma ingrained in me that taking your car to the auto shop meant shelling out the big bucks, and I wasn't cool with that (no pun intended). So, I rolled around town with the windows down everywhere I went. It wasn't so bad, at first anyways.
Then June came along, and with each passing day, it seemed to get hotter and hotter outside. I began taking a class at Mississippi College, and the daily 20-minute commute in the heat was awful. Then, the government decided that it was a good time to do construction along 1-220 and I-20my only routes to and from Clinton. This meant sitting at a standstill on several occasions, as apparently people don't know how to function with a "left lane closed 1/2 mile ahead" sign.
I even started to get dry mouth. I'm sure that most of this was mental (my first thought anytime something weird occurs with my daily functions, I think I have cancer or, oddly, schizophrenia), but the heat was getting to me. By the time I reached the Jackson Free Press offices every day, I was two seconds away from passing out. I began complaining to people I knew about having no A/C and discovered that I wasn't alone. Several other people I knew were in the same condition. It was almost like we were part of an elite squad of sufferers.
One day, I stumbled into my house after a car ride, obviously in torment. "Mom, I think I have dry mouth from the heat," I wallowed. "I hate having no A/C!"
"You don't have A/C?" my mother asked, bewildered. I don't know why it never occurred to me to express this particular misfortune to my parents before, but I instantly felt very stupid. "No," I cautiously whined, still recovering.
After mildly yelling that I should have told them about my problem much sooner, she nonchalantly said, "You probably just need more Freon."
"Have you had your Freon level checked since you got your car?" she asked.
"No, I don't even know what that means!" I said, panicking.
After this shocking discovery, I discussed with several people in the elite squad of sufferers whether or not this "Freon thing" was plausible. The general reaction was: "What! That wasn't the first thing you checked?"
The verdict isn't yet in, but I have a date with destiny (a.k.a. the auto-repair man) next week. The thought of driving with A/C makes me happier than the thought of fireworks and my Aunt Bab's banana pudding on July 4.
If you've had A/C this summer, count your blessings. If you're a member of the elite squad of sufferers, my heart goes out to you. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated (apparently that's supposed to help your body stay cool in the heat. Go figure!). Also, I've discovered that if you ride with just the passenger side window down, the wind generated by a moving car hits your face more directly. If you're a slow mover, then get going. The faster you drive (under the speed limit, of course), the more breeze you generate, even if it is hot air. But most importantly, talk to a dad or mechanic and brainstorm solutions. You never know, it could just be your Freon level.
My ac works in my 1992 truck that I drive most days and I have a luxury car in the garage with excellent air, but because I know there are people living without ac in both their cars and homes, I drive an old truck with the air turned off to show the world and myself I'm still hardcore, rough and rugged, jungle-ready, tough-trails-ready, horse and buggy prepared and still ready to leap tall building in a single bound. Young folks who didn't walk 50 miles a day to school every day like I did; yet still daily feed the chickens, slopped the hogs, watered the truck patch and farm, cut the wood for the stove and fireplace, toted the water from the church spring to drink and cook with, then ran down chickens, coons, possums, pigs and cows that had to be killed with bare hands because we were too poor to afford killing utensils; don't appear able to handle the things we had to handle as young folks. When I asked my daddy to get us some air, he retorted I should go outside to get some from the sky. I don't mean to knock young folks of today, but don't y'all think you need to be preparing your self for trying and troubling events such as Katrina or the midwest storms in the event we face something similar or worse. During Katrina while many others were crying about not being able to sleep due to heat I went up stairs, closed the windows and got under the covers. Similarly, when people were crying about the inability to cook due to lack of gas or electricity I walked in the back yard and got some sticks that I rubbed together to make a great fire. I then ran down a couple of rabbits and roasted them to eat. Nontheless, I understand the need for air and hope the good Lawd allows me to afford it until I die becaue even I know my prowess and immune system will some day break down should I live to be 125 or something like that.
No alligators back then, Walt?
Will I never saw any alligators. My relatives probably had caught, killed and eaten them all before I was born.
Love the title, Maggie! Feels good when the wind hits my dreads, especially if I have some of my hair in a ponytail. My A/C went out about two or three years ago. Freon was the first thing that came to mind, but since the A/C won't even come on (among other things), I'm pretty sure it's an electrical problem. I don't know when I'll get around to getting it checked out.
Young folks who didn't walk 50 miles a day to school every day like I did; yet still daily feed the chickens, slopped the hogs, watered the truck patch and farm, cut the wood for the stove and fireplace, toted the water from the church spring to drink and cook with, then ran down chickens, coons, possums, pigs and cows that had to be killed with bare hands because we were too poor to afford killing utensils; don't appear able to handle the things we had to handle as young folks. Walt, you need to drop to your knees and repent for that tall tale. :P
So did the freeon work?!? I too am without A/C and it really is the pitts. OMG! Luckily though, I only live a few mins from work. Another good idea that i've come across is to park in the shade at work and crack my windows. I hope the freon worked. We have July and August to live through.
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